Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

Related Topics

Charter of Pennsylvania, from Charles II to William Penn
William Penn suggested what he wanted, and the Royal bureaucracy suggested suitable modifications of the gift. The resulting charter is a shrewd and fair legal document, but contained a major geographical error.

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Not Only to Own, but to Govern

And him the said William Penn his heires and As-signes Wee doe by this our Royall Charter for us our heires and successors make, create and constitute the true and absolute Propriertaries of the countryes aforesaid and of all other the premisses, saveing alwayes {to us our heirs and successors} the Faith and allegiance of the said William Penn, his heires and Assignes, and of all other {proprietaries, tenants and inhabitants that are, or shall be, within the Territories and precincts aforesaid, and {saving alsoe every unto us our Heirs and successors, the sovereignty of the aforsd country} the sovereignty Dominion thereof due unto us our heires and successors, To have, hold, possesse and enjoy the said Tract of Land, Country, Isles, Inletts and other the premisses, unto the said William Penn his heires and Assignes. To the only proper use and behoof of the said William Penn his heires & Assignes forever To be holden of us, our heirs and successors, Kings of England as of our Castle of Windsor in our County of Windsor, Berks, in Free and common Soccage, by fealty only for all Services and not in Capite or by Knights Service, Yeilding and paying therefore to us our heirs and successors Two Beaver skins to be delivered {at our said Castle of Windsor} on the First day of January in every year if demanded. And also the Fifth part of all gold and silver Oar which shall from time to time happen to be found within the limitts aforesaid {clear of all charges}. And of our further grace, certain knowledge, and mere motion wee have thought fit to erect and wee doe hereby erects the {afore}said Country and Islands into a province and Seigniory and doe call it Pennsylvania and so from henceforth we will have it called Pennsylvania. And forasmuch as we have hereby made and ordained the aforesaid William Penn his heirs and Assigns, the true and absolute Proprietaries of all the Lands and dominions aforesaid Know yee {therefore} that wee reposting special trust and confidence in the fidelity, wisdom, Justice, and provident circumspection of the said William Penn for us our heirs and successors Doe grant free full and absolute power by virtue of these presents to him and his heirs and to his and their Deputies and Lieutenant for the good and happy government of the said Countries to ordain, make, enact and under his and their seals to publish, any Laws whatsoever for the raising of money for the public uses of the said Province or for any other end appertaining either unto the public state peace or safety of the said Country or unto the private utility of particular persons according unto their best discretions by and with the advise, assent, and approbation of the Freemen of the said Countries or the greater part of them or of their

Delegates or Deputies whom for the enacting of the said Laws when and as often as need shall require {x} Wee will that the said William Penn and his heirs shall assemble in such sort and forme as to him and them shall seem best and the same Lawes duly to execute unto and upon all people within the said countries and limits thereof {x x}. And we do likewise give and grant unto the said William Penn and his heirs, and to his and their Deputies and Lieutenant, full power and authority to appoint and establish any Judges and Justices Magistrates and officers whatsoever for what Causes soever for the probates of wills and for the granting of Administrations within the precincts aforesaid, and with what power soever and in such forme as {to} the said William Penn or his heirs shall seem most convenient. Also to remit release, pardon, and abolish, whether before Judgment or after, all Crimes and offenses whatsoever committed within the said Country against the said Laws Treason and willful and malicious murders only excepted and in those cases to grant reprieves until our pleasured may be known therein and to do all and every other thing and things which unto the complete establishment of Justice unto Courts and Tribunals formes of Judicature and manner of proceedings doe belong, Altho in these presents express mention be not made thereof And by Judges by them delegated to award proc-esse hold, please, and determine in all the said Courts and Tribunal all actions suits and causes whatsoever as well Criminal as Civil, personal, real and mixt, which Laws so as aforesaid to be published. Our pleasure is and so we enjoy, require, and command shall be most absolute and available in Law and that all the Liege people {and subjects} of us our heires and Successors do observe and keep the same unavoidably in those parts so far as they concern them under the pain therein expressed {or to be expressed}, Provided Nevertheless that the said Laws be consonant to reason and bee not repugnant or contrary but as near as conveniently may be agreeable to the Laws, Statutes, and rights of this our Kingdome of England. And saving and reserving to us our heirs and successors the receiving, hearing, and determining of the appeal & appeals of all or any person or persons or in or belonging to the Territories aforesaid, or touching any Judgment to be there made or given And forasmuch as in the government of so great a Country sudden accidents doe often happen, whereunto it will be necessary to apply a Remedy before the Freeholders of the said Province or their Delegates or Deputies can be assembled to the making of laws, neither will it be convenient that instantly upon every such emergent occasion so great a multitude should be called together. Therefore for the better government of the said Country wee will and ordain, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and Successors Doe grant, unto the said William Penn and his heirs by themselves or by their magistrates and Officers in that

behalf duly to bee ordained as aforesaid to make and constitute fit and wholesome ordinances from time to time within the said Country to be kept and observed as well for the preservation of the peace as for the better government of the people there inhabiting and publicly to notify the same to all persons who the same doth or anyway may concern Which ordinances our will and pleasure is shall be kept {observed} inviolably within the said Province under pains therein to be expressed {[illegible deletion]}. Soe as the said ordinances be consonant to reason and bee not repugnant nor contrary but so far as conveniently may be agreeable with the Laws of our Kingdome of England and so as the said Ordinances be not extended in am sort to bind charge or take away the right or interest of any person or persons of or in their Life, members 2' Freehold goods or Chatties. And our further Will and pleasure is that the [illegible deletion] Laws for regulateing and governing of propertie within the said province as well for the descent and enjoyment of Lands as likewise for the enjoyment and possession {succession} of goods and Chatties and likewise as to the treasonc and {to} Felonies shall be and continue the same as they shall bee for the time being by the generall course of the Law in our Kingdome of England untill the said Laws shall bee altered by the said William Penn his heires or Assignes and by the Freemen of the said Province their Delegates or Deputies or the greater part of them {x x x And to the end the said William Penn or his Heirs, or other the Planters, Owners, or Inhabitants of the said Province, may not at any time hereafter, by misconstruction of the Powers aforesaid, through inadvertancy or design, depart from that faith & due allegiance wch bv the Laws of this Our Realm of England, they & all Our subjects in Our Dominions & Territoryes always owe to Us, our Heirs, & Successors, by color of any Extent or Largeness of [illegible deletion] {Powers} hereby given, or pretended to be given, Or by force or color of any Laws hereafter to be made in the said Province {by virtue of any such Powers} Our further Will & Pleasure is, That a Transcript or Duplicate of all Laws, wch shall be so as aforesaid made &: published, within the said Province, shall within 5. years after the making thereof be transmitted & delivered to the Privy Councill for the time being of Us, Our Heirs & Successors. And if any of the said Laws, within the Space of 6. months, after that they shall be so transmitted &.- delivered be declared by Us, Our Heirs, or Successors, in Our or their Privy Councill, inconsistent with the Sovereignty or lawful Prerogative of Us, Our Heirs, or Successors, or contrary to the Faith & Allegiance due by the Legal Governm1 of this Realm from the said Wm Penn, or his Heirs, or of the Planters or of the Planters, & Inhabitants of the said Province, And that thereupon any of the said Laws shall be adjudged & declared to be void by Us, Our Heirs, or Successors, by order of their, or Our Privy Councill, or by our or their

Signet & Sign Manuel, that, {under our or their Privy Seal } then, & from thenceforth, such Laws concerning with such Judgement & Declaration shall be made, shall become void, & other ways, the said Laws so transmitted shall remain & stand in full force, according to the true intent & meaning thereof.

Originally published: Wednesday, February 03, 2010; most-recently modified: Thursday, May 02, 2019